On Sept. 8th, we ventured out from Maryland to the York Fair. It brought back a ton of childhood memories, as we would go every year just as the school year returned. This year we didn’t go just for the rides, food and crafts, rather we went to sit down and talk with Michael Ray about his tour and career. As we arrived at the venue, the staff was so accommodating and helpful in every way. We were instructed as to what we needed to do and where to go all with smiling faces. We were then led to a back room under the stage to conduct the interview. We were met by Michael’s new manager and former drummer. They escorted us around some trailers and we realized that we were actually going to interview Michael Ray on his tour bus! Yes, I totally freaked out a bit but tried to stay calm. Michael Ray, I promise I will never ever forget your kindness and hospitality during this interview. Ok, now let’s get to the interview. I hope you enjoy…..
B Chord – What was it like being mentored by someone as cool and famous as John Rich?
Michael Ray – It was great man! John is one of those guys that when you meet him you feel like you have known him for years. He is such a good dude and he is just so in tune with music. John Rich knows whomever is on the charts right now sitting at number one, about to go number one, or the Top 40. He is one of those guys that you just sit back and learn from. That relationship was something that really helped me out. He has been a great friend and mentor. We have written a few songs together “Run Away with You” being one of them.
B Chord – You actually stole my next question, which was how did the process of writing that song together come about?
Michael Ray – Ha, my bad! We were actually at his house and John and his wife had just returned from their first vacation in 5 years. This was because they have little ones and he is always on the road and has his hands in 9,000 other business ventures. His wife owns a few businesses as well so they are super busy. When he got back, he just had the melody of “I Just Wanna Run Away” “You”. So we were just hanging drinking Crown and smoking cigars at his bar, which is an actual night club, and I was driving my tour van at the time. The guys and I were still all living together in one place. We then started talking about how in this day and age with technology, we have the easiest ways to communicate but NO ONE communicates! People in the 1800’s did it better. Life today is just so fast paced and if you do what we do you are home for a second and gone again. I don’t have kids or a wife so I can only imagine how hard it is for him to balance family and work. He was saying how great it was that John and Ms. Joan went. I am trying to remember which one of us said “It’s good to kinda shut the phones off and run away with the person that you love”. That was it! We collaborated for 6 hours, but the song only took 45 minutes to write. The rest of the time was drinking Crown and smoking cigars!
B Chord – Congratulations reaching Number 1 with “Kiss You in the Morning”. Where were you when you heard the news and how did it make you feel?
Michael Ray – Thank you, thank you so much. Man, when “Kiss You in the Morning” went Number 1 it was a whirlwind of a week. The record came out and the song went quickly to number 1 and I played Good Morning America for our first big TV spot. We ended up being in my hometown and got to celebrate the single with my Dad and everybody Andrew, John and myself are all from Florida and grew up in the same area. So it was a really cool moment to be back at where it all started and visit some of the places that let me play in high school when I was just learning. I was even paid a couple dollars more than they should have for my knowledge at the time. My hometown has helped me to get where I am today and I could not have asked for a better place for the first number to occur. Some individuals go an entire career and don’t have a number one hit, so I just feel so fortunate and truly blessed. There is just so much great music out there today.
B Chord – This leads right into my next question. You were able to play a special performance of “Kiss You in the Morning” while you were in your home town of Eustis, Florida, correct?
Michael Ray – Oh yeah, at the Walmart! I grew up grocery shopping there my whole life. Actually my cousin who is selling merchandise for me now was working there at the time. My Aunt I believe still works there to this day. It was so cool. We had a thousand people at my hometown Walmart all there just to see us play.
B Chord – Your current single is out now, “Get to You”. I love the song as well as the video. Did you write the song? Can you give us some insight into the recording of this song?
Michael Ray – A couple buddies of mine wrote that one. Cris Lacey my A&R Rep at Warner had it pitched first. I wanted the second album to stand apart and wanted it to show growth. I didn’t want anything real crazy or off the wall. The focus was on the growth we have been through the last couple of years being out with Darius Rucker, Brantley Gilbert, Kip Moore and Sam Hunt. All of these guys that we have been able to open for, standing side stage to watch and learn. We also love to learn from the fans and crowds as we grow our fan base. The song vocally was exactly what we wanted to do and showed off a little more of what I knew I could do that we really didn’t touch in the first record. So luckily it was up for grabs. I have written a bunch of songs and pitched songs to other artists as well. I truly believe when you weigh it out the best song always wins. Sometimes another person can put something into words that your emotions won’t let you do. That is one of the coolest parts of music, but especially in Nashville. We wouldn’t have a career without song writers and song writers wouldn’t get their songs heard without singers. So being able to stand on stage knowing that we are all on that stage together as a team effort is a really cool thing. Truly I hope one day I write a big hit song for myself as well. That is what country music is all about. Everyone moves to that town with a dream and we all need each other in some shape or form. “Get to You” was just one of those songs that when we got to the studio just stood out. We knew this is it and that’s the one we want to go to.
B Chord – How about the video? Are you really driving the truck in the scenes?
Michael Ray – Yeah so my buddy Shane Tarleton who is actually a genius at Warner, has always had these crazy little ideas that always seem to work. You learn to not even question him and you just go with it. He says to me “Alright man, here me out. We take a video of you just driving and singing. One camera and that is it.” So I say Ok I gotcha. He says ‘It will take 45 minutes”. I am like, there is nothing in music that just takes 45 minutes especially with a video because you always have to deal with lighting and everything else. So I go and pick them up at Warner and within an hour we were back. I just drove over this one bridge in Nashville about 8 times and sang the song each time. We stopped and took a few shots out of the truck. I did do my part with the jeep scenes a few times. I had the song on in the truck and I just sang along with it. It was great bro. It has been one of our most liked videos and now I think man, we spent so much on the other ones and this one was the most simple.
B Chord – On the video it shows “Chapter 1”. Does that mean this will Segway into another song?
Michael Ray- Yeah we have some ideas in the works. We are in the middle of cutting the rest of the record now so we are still putting all of that together. So stay tuned!!
B Chord – So we have to ask how long did the famous tribal tattoo on your arm take to complete?
Michael Ray – Whoo. I think it was about 3 ½ hours a session and I probably had 5 or 6 sessions. The reason I have this is that my Dad has the same tattoo. He, his brother and my best friend have one. My Dad is a paramedic firefighter and so is my uncle and my friend. My three sisters and I signed our signatures on his chest as a tattoo as well. He was getting it and I thought I will do that too, but I wanted one a lot bigger! Ha!
B Chord – So when you release a song that has the name Jesus in it did you get some blow back? How did it go over when you wanted to record and release it? I love the song and it is one of my favorites.
Michael Ray – We definitely got blow back on that song. I think some people took it more literal than it was meant to be you know. My grandfather was a huge part of my life and in my career. We lost him a couple months before I got to debut at the Opry. He was the one who taught my Dad, my uncles and cousins to play guitar. I honestly wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him. I put that song out because it reminded me so much of him. The part in that song where it says “To say I love you they don’t need a reason” that was my grandfather. He would call you back if he forgot to say it all the way up to the day he passed. My family was raised with the belief that the men did all these positive things and they loved Jesus. That is what the song is meant to be. I get that I am not the type to try and force anything down anyone’s throat and we are all allowed our own opinion. I truly put this out because I felt like I needed to say if for my grandfather.
B Chord – I asked everyone the same question and here it goes. You are stranded on an island but you can have one guitar with you. What would it be and why? Did you cheat and go and look at some others?
Michael Ray – No, no, I didn’t cheat. I almost did. I had the link and I almost looked! Ha! Oh with not having electricity I can’t take my grandpa’s Gibson, but I can say his Epiphone Hummingbird. He played it for years and I now have that at my house. That would probably be the one out of all of the ones I have. I do love my McPherson but that would have to be the one.
B Chord – So you are about to embark on the 2017 Get to You Tour. Looks like about 15 stops or so? Can you tell us a little about it and what we can look forward to?
Michael Ray – We actually added more! I think it is up to about 20 right now. We are also going to kick off the Dustin Lynch Tour. It is great because we are on tour with Dustin and his new album is just amazing. We are only on tour with him for the first weekend. I wish we were on there for more. Then we shoot to Canada for a tour with Dallas Smith and Lauren Alaina. That will be great!
We then worked our way out to the stage to see Michael take it by storm. The entire stage setting was fantastic. The band engaged the crowd to a point that you felt that they were your best friends and it was just a night in the garage jamming out. Michael has such a stage presence that he can capture everyone and bring them into the song. He truly has found his voice and his fan following. I was blown away by Lucas Chamberlain on the lead guitar, Carl on rhythm guitar, Jonathan Sepulveda on the bass guitar and the new addition to the band Kyle on the drums. Andrew his past drummer is now his manager and can I say one of the nicest people who worked out the entire day for us. Michael thanked everyone as he pointed out everyone from his cousin on merchandise to John 2.0 on sound. He truly makes his tour a family affair and as a fan I felt like family too. Thank you so much Michael Ray and I only hope I can shed a bit of light on the amazing person that you are.
Do us a favor and go and purchase “Get to You” and check out the following links for Michael Ray.
Website – http://www.michaelraymusic.com/
ITunes “Get To You” Single – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/get-to-you-single/id1246493957
Photos from the York Fair Show